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Then, as a further exhibition of his power over the scorpion, Moussa placed it on the ground. It moved across the rubble and debris as though about to escape, when the Sheikh suddenly commanded it to stand still. And stop it did!
He picked it up again and carried it over to his wicker-work basket. The latter was a large, queer-shaped, round vessel, possessing the outline of a gigantic ink-bottle. He raised the well-fitting lid, put the scorpion inside, and shut down the basket.
We went off in search of bigger game, Moussa insured me that he would be able to detect the whereabouts of a snake merely by his own sense of smell, an explanation that did not seem very convincing to me. However, he stopped again in a part of the garden nearer the Nile, shouted a brief command and struck his palm-stick upon the roots of a tree. Thereupon he began, in the same high-pitched monotone, a sonorous series of recurring phrases calling upon the serpent to come out of its hole, and adjuring it, by Allah, by His Prophet and by King Solomon, not to resist his will. His manner was very intense and concentrated. Occasionally he again struck the roots of the tree.
Two minutes passed in this way, but no snake showed itself. Moussa appeared to become a litde angry and excited at this disobedience to his command. The perspiration streamed down his face in large drops and his lips actually trembled. Thrashing the tree with his stick, "By the life of the Prophet! I swear that it is there 1" he said to me. Muttering to himself, he bent over the ground for a moment and then shouted: "Everyone stand awayl Big cobra coming!"
The crowd of spectators scattered in a trice to safe distance, whilst I retreated backwards a yard or two, keeping my eyes steadily fixed upon every movement that he made. He curled up the right sleeve of his brown robe, peered dosdy at the ground over which he was stooping, uttered his magical spells with redoubled force and bravely thrust his hand into the depths of a narrow hole among the roots. I could not see the snake from where I stood, but evidently it had retreated deeper into its refuge. Because, with a look of much annoyance on his face, Moussa withdrew his am, rolled up his sleeve still farther and once more plunged his arm into the black opening of the hole; this time, almost up to his shoulder-blade. In a moment his hand was out again, a squirming, struggling serpent held tight in his grasp. He had forcibly pulled it out,